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Creating Outdoor Carnivorous Plant Bog Barrels/Containers


My two half barrel bog planters from summer 2022


Whether you are a new starter looking to create your first outdoor bog or an experienced grower, creating an outdoor planted bog or container with carnivorous plants is a great way to utilise space, grow hardy genera and create some beautiful show pieces for your garden.

Through the years I have seen some stunning bogs/ container displays, some which are large and planted directly in the ground using pond liners and others which are small, simple but effective. I created two of my own carnivorous bog barrels 3 years ago after being inspired by some many others, I had great fun making them and they were so easy to create. Since then, I have had so many questions from other growers surrounding them, so this blog covers what you need to know!

The process of how I created mine:


- I used two wooden half barrels with no drainage holes for mine, however you can use a large/small container or pot. You may also want to do it on a larger scale and use a plastic pond or dig a section in your garden and line with pond liner. I would not suggest terracotta pots unless you line them with plastic, as they can leach minerals and will dry out quickly

- I then proceeded to line the barrels with black plastic pond liner so that media would not seep through the wood of the barrels and so that there was no drainage. Some people place a hole halfway up their container/ liner so that when there lots of rain it prevents flooding on the surface. However, as I live in an area with very little rainfall, I have not got any drainage and I have never had lots of flooding with mine.

- I placed a piece of plastic pipe in the middle of my barrels to gage where the water level is in the bog, although this can also be used to water your bog when freshly planted, I find it easier to use a watering can rose to water over the top of the planter, as the rain would do naturally

- I then filled my containers with a mixture of peat and perlite (1:2 in ratio). If you have a very large/deep pot and only want to fill part of the space, you may pack Styrofoam or similar at the base before lining in order to raise the planting level.

-Next to select your plants, I selected a range of temperate genus and species including Sarracenia, Pinguicula, Drosera and Dionaea. Due to having two containers I have since used one as a permanent planter and the second as an experimental planter to see what will withstand UK winters.

I suggest creating your container in winter/ early spring when the plants are in dormancy, this reduces the risk of shock from transplanting

(Above) Both planters upon planting in 2020

(Above) A few shots of the planters in 2021

(Above) Then both plants at various times this year, 2022


Plants you can use:


Drosera:
  • filiformis

  • anglica

  • rotundifolia

  • intermedia

  • binata

  • various other temperate hybrids

Sarracenia:
  • flavas

  • purpureas and their hybrids

  • psittacinas

Other carnivorous plants:
  • Darlingtonia (Cobra lily)

  • Dionaea muscipula (Venus flytraps)

  • Temperate Pinguicula (Butterworts) such as grandiflora and vulgaris


Some close-up images of some of my plants from my outside bogs


You can also use non-carnivorous plants to grow alongside such as Erica/Calluna (Heathers) and Pogonia (Bog Orchids)
My binata disaster

Depending on how cold your winters get in your area will help determine what you can grow outside year-round, above lists some of the hardiest plants you can grow.

I would not suggest growing Sarracenia leucophylla outside for example as it does not function as well in the cold as the hardier species. Similarly, I would not recommend large binata varieties, I used a small clump of Drosera binata var. dichotoma a few years back and it quickly took over by propagating itself from the roots, in my attempt to remove all traced of it, digging out half the bog, it has since come back.





I have found that sub-tropical Drosera which have self-seeded in the media of plants I have placed outside, such as Drosera capensis, Drosera spatulata and Drosera aliciae grow really well outside too and during winter will die down to nothing and then come back in Spring from the roots. So, you can also trial sub-tropical species in your own planters, but they do become weeds reasonably quickly too.


Maintenance and care (Tips and tricks):


Having an outdoor planter does not require any other additional care compared to growing other carnivorous plants. Make sure to keep it moist and don’t let it dry out, if your container does not have drainage then ensure the plants are not submerged under water for long periods of time if you get a lot of rain. A drainage hole half-way up can help

During the summer the surface of your planters may dry out quickly due to intense and direct sun, so it is important that if you have shallow rooted plants such as temperate Pinguicula and small temperate Drosera that your planter is well watered. Due to the exceptionally hot summer this year, reaching record temperatures, I decided to place a layer of Milled Pine Bark over the surface to aid with the water retention in summer. If you do place a surface layer of bark/gravel, then make sure it is carnivorous plant safe and will not leach minerals into the media.
Sarracenia tied in place

During the growing season you may experience strong winds, dependent on where you live. Strong winds often damage Sarracenia pitchers and flowers, knocking them over or ripping them off. Therefore, I like to use some short bamboo canes around my plants and use twine to support them. I have also seen people use plastic plant supports and other items to hold plants up, so whatever works for you.

One problem with outside planter can be wild animals, I have had a problem with birds pulling out plants and also squirrels which can be a nuisance. I tried placing sticks in the soil and smashed dvds to scare them away at first but then eventually resorted to covering with chicken wire, this method worked well and after a while when the plants were established, I was able to take it away and there was a lot less disturbance.

As the summer draws to a close, the plants will begin to die back for winter. Simply cut back any dead traps/pitchers from your plants during this time. Some of your temperate plants may form hibernacula in which they will remain in this dormant state until Spring, during this time you can change around your planters or add/remove plants.

Drosera anglica, Pinguicula grandiflora and Drosera filiformis dying down for winter and their hibernacula


During winter you will unlikely need to water your planter any more due to rain and snow fall. If it rains a lot where you are then it would help place a drainage hole halfway or 3/4 of the way up to avoid top flooding. Do not worry about snow cover or frost as this will not affect your hardy plants.

Some pictures of my planters in winter with frost and snow


In the coming winter I plan to add Darlingtonia and my newly acquired Pogonia to my experimental bog and create a more permanent display that will fill out as nicely as my first one.

Want to see more of my bog barrels?
Have a look on my YouTube for various Bog Barrel videos over the last couple of years here:

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